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Hayman’s mega deal raising the bar again

Details of the fabulous financial rewards for Carl Hayman to give up on his dream of returning to New Zealand to help the All Blacks win the 2011 World Cup emerged last night.

The former All Black, regarded as the No. 1 tight head prop in world rugby, is said to have negotiated a deal potentially worth over £1.67 million (NZ$3.5 million) with French Top 14 club Toulon. It is a staggering sum, a figure that has amazed most observers in European rugby.

The deal is believed to be for two years, with a further one year’s option. But the salary, £557,000 per season, is a formidable amount of money that raises the bar worldwide on the value of the best rugby players around the globe. It will bring broad smiles to the faces of players such as Dan Carter, Richie McCaw, Matt Giteau, Victor Matfield and others who may be thinking of moving to the northern hemisphere once the World Cup is over.

It is clear, however, that such riches are only available in France. England’s salary cap of £4 million makes them look the poor cousins by comparison with the French figures, even though the French are reducing their own figures.

The figures go an awful long way to explaining why Hayman was prepared to risk ending his hopes of playing in the World Cup. Add on the three years he has played at English club Newcastle, where he was believed to be on around £350,000 a season (at the then exchange rates) for three years, earning him around NZ$2.5 million during his time in England, and the figures start to become mind blowing for a player in a sport which has only been professional for 15 years.

If Hayman now stays another three years, he will have accumulated something in excess of NZ$6 million (£2.8 million), even allowing for the significant fall of the pound against the NZ dollar in recent months. Of course, by going to France and the land of the euro, Hayman’s deal becomes even more valuable for when he eventually returns to New Zealand. He is said to want to buy a farm in Taranaki but at this rate, he might be able to buy New Zealand. The fact that Hayman is joining a club in probably the best location in France, beside the Mediterranean, where the winters are short and rarely that cold, makes the deal even better from his point of view.

Given that he plays so intensely physical a sport, such riches easily explain his decision to accept the Toulon offer. Frankly, many will believe that he would have been mad not to accept it, World Cup or not.

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